Experimental college, good turn out
September 2, 2009 10:09 PM
The SF State Experimental College had a high-energy first meeting Wednesday in the Cesar Chavez Center and saw a sizeable turnout.
The resurrected independent study course is aimed at teaching students to network productively with other students, organize around important issues and take action accordingly.
The meeting drew about 50 students. Some wanted to learn how to become activists, some wished to find a way to take action against the budget cuts, but nearly everyone came for the credits.
Established in 1966,the first experimental college arose out of very similar feelings of student unrest and dissatisfaction with the state of the university and of California's public education in general.
The 1-4 unit student-run class was helped back into existence by two former SF State students who were involved in the historical 1968 protest, Connell Persico and Roger Alvarado.
Persico and Alvarado helped Campus Organizing Roundtable for Empowerment members for four months conceptualizing the college and were in attendance to answer questions and help push the organization in the direction it needed to go.
"I do not want my great grandchildren to come to this institution in the condition that it's in," Alvarado said.
Persico and Alvarado spoke about what the students should be working toward as a group, adding personal experiences and strategies they adopted while defining the original in '66.
"You are talking about coming together to learn things you can't learn anywhere else," Alvarado said.
CORE leaders did an overview of the vision the organizers have for the college, the tentative curriculum and course requirements.
Organizing CORE members then led a question-and-answer period with the students, focusing on the different educational issues the class would like to discuss and eventually organize around politically and intellectually to solve.
"There's an amazing energy in the room," said 22-year-old cinema major Alex Fu. "People are coming in here not just looking for extra units, but saying 'I've never been an activist before, teach me how to organize.'"
Persico advised the students from experience that the most important things to remember to do in this type of situation are to remain active, continue to build up the cause and to remain kind to each other.
"I don't know if you have to accept in your mind that you are in a corrupt institution," Persico said. "But it would help."
CORE member and organizer Jerald Reodica was thrilled with the very diverse turnout, and said he felt "energized" after the three-hour period and plans to build on this energy.
Students in attendance were supportive of the "work in progress," however, some felt that so far, the program lacks structure.
"I love the idea, but it actually seems a little unorganized," said 19-year-old Adrienne Scruton.
The SF State experimental college will meet again on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the Richard Oakes Multicultural Center, located inside the student center.
After subsequent meetings, CORE is planning to group students according to availability and split up into different sections with different times, in order to accommodate more.
More information is available at http://sfsuexperimentalcollege.blogspot.com
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